Making decisions in Pakistan

May 13, 2009

With Pakistan facing a refugee crisis, and its army engaged in intense fighting in the Swat valley, the question of who makes decisions in the country and how these are taken may not seem like the top priority.

But Shuja Nawaz at the Atlantic Council makes a strong argument in favour of deepening institutional mechanisms for decision-making. While President Asif Ali Zardari, who has retained the sweeping presidential powers of his predecessor Pervez Musharraf, made many decisions himself and also personally represented Pakistan diplomatically on trips overseas, the institutional process of decision-making that would allow coordination between the different branches of the country’s government is lacking, he writes. As a result the government seemed unprepared to deal with the million refugees created by Pakistan’s military offensive against the Taliban. 

“If there had been an institutional mechanism for national security analysis and decision-making with a clear central command authority … the exodus would have been anticipated and arrangements put in place to look after the displaced people,” he writes. ”The National Security Council has been abolished. The Defence Committee of the cabinet does not appear to have met to discuss the crisis. And in the absence of a National Security Adviser, sacked by the prime minister in a moment of pique following the Mumbai attack, there is no formal mechanism for studying such issues nor a central point in government to ensure that all parts of the administration work together to anticipate problems and resolve issues.”

“A highly personalized decision-making process remains in place, informed in some cases more by anecdote than by analysis. Most exchanges on military issues take place directly between the President and the Army Chief. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is often by-passed. Coordination of the fight against the militants between Interior Ministry and the military is desultory at best,” he says.

“The army, still unequipped and untrained for counterinsurgency, may yet be able to clear the Swat valley of the militants. But, as a senior military officer confided to me, the army will be unable to hold the territory indefinitely. Providing governance and justice is the civilians’ job. And there is no evidence of civilian institutions or a police force to do the needful. So the Taliban may return to fill the vacuum, as they did before.”

By most accounts, Pakistan faces a long war if it is to take on the Taliban while also rebuilding shattered communities and bringing much-needed economic development to its north-west.  But success in long wars tends to depend more on logistics than on leadership. It will be interesting to see how well Pakistan develops the institutional mechanisms needed to provide those logistics.

23 comments

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Its another example of dumb denial by Pak army and admn. They could have asked Indian army for some tips for crying out loud. OR could have learnt from SriLanka which has botched up its own offensive on its people. A major campaign like this should have had some preparation/planning. The offensive should have been preceded by a >2 weeks notice of mandatory evacuation; with arrangements to receive evacuees with tents and other mundane/essential needs already in place. Medical and health supplies should have been adequately stocked up.Pak has plenty stuff from its massive earthquakes it went thru in recent years. Once people were given adequate time to evacuate, then and only then the offensive should have commenced.

They were in a hurry to get the checks from US donors, so they have begun this massive military exercise with a preparation only comparable to a limited overs cricket match.

Looks like Srilanka and Pak are mutually training eachother in their misadventures.
Afraid to think whats coming up next.

Myra and Azad:

Clearly this Pakistan machine is running without proper lubrication. Bypassing the leaders and the ministries that matter is not small thing. Cannot be justified, if someone is even remotely thinking, that the current operation and other such issues are of high security and too much sensitive information among too many civilian leaders is unsafe.

I heard in earlier blogs that Pakistan/China trained Sri Lanka in tackling LTTE. Isn;t it showing up–both following the same heavy handed (helicopter/shelling) strategies. Believing COAS chief Kayani who said SWAT peace deal was an “operational pause”, one would expect all this background plans happening by involving all the essential civil and military leadership. Clearly that was not happening if I go by this article.

Any one knows how many civilians and militants deaths so far?

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Myra:

” But success in long wars tends to depend more on logistics than on leadership. It will be interesting to see how well Pakistan develops the institutional mechanisms needed to provide those logistics.”

- I would like to give an update on the situation on ground as follows and after that give my comment.

Joint Press Briefing by Military and Govt. Officials
ISLAMABAD
5:00PM,PST Thursday, 14 May 2009 GEO TV
Maj Gen. Athar Abbas DG ISPR
Brig. Amir
Minister of state for economic affairs
Minister of state for information

Key highlights:

1. In last 24 hours 54 millitants have been killed and 9 armed forces personnel embraced martyrdom.

2. COAS Gen. Kayani visited troops in Swat this morning to boost their morale and interact with ground commanders. COAS to brief leaders of political parties in tommorow on the operation.

3. Gen. Kayani states management of IDPs as important as the military offensive itself.

4. Swat being approached from four location and in Mingora Army is closing in from two locations.

5. heliborne troops that were airdropped composed of commandos involved in search and destroy missions.

6. Pakistan Air force is bombing the militant hideouts, suspected weapons storage sites and training areas of militants.

7. Army H.Q in Peochar attacked by millitants whereas the attack was repulsed causing militant casualties, Army suffering injuries only.

8. Bajaur is almost been cleared, situation returning to normal.

9. BBC report of Taliban controlloing territory denied, as per Gen. Athar all roads and areas are under use by the Army to supply the units deployed in those areas. Which shows that its the Army that controls the areas not militants, since the 120,000 strong military force deployed across the border recieves their supplies via the roads network etc.

10. National Assembly speaker and acting President Fehmida Mirza visits IDP camps, government being proactive and not waiting for international help, and have already started its mobilization of resources.

11. Prime Minister allocated the fund, all parliament members donating their one month salary, Army contributing from its own food rations, Army medical corps teams deployed in camps to set up medical units.

12. Each day atleast one high level govt. official or minister is visiting the camps to see the situation on ground, help is under way and all national disaster management bodies working together.

———————————————————-

Myra, i closely watched today’s briefing and found that both the two Army officers and government officials to be in the same boat. The army is very good at management, the government seems to putting its act together. Who ever calls the shots would not matter in the end. If the operation is decisive and management of humanitarian crisis is proerly coordinated, I see this settling down soon. This is surely a logistical challenge, supplying and briefing the troops properly in the combat zone, while rehabilitating the IDPs at the same time will be a winning combination and the situation would return to normal.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

The way the Taliban operates is to lay low when attacked. It looks like a defeat. They emerge again once the dust has settled in. It took 8 years for the US to realize this. Now Pakistan is fighting the Taliban. How will the Pakistani military know that it has wiped out the Taliban? I am sure most of them have moved into the Afghan side of the Durand line and leaving the others as sitting ducks. Looks like this war is never going to end.

Reports of Pakistan’s demise greatly exaggerated
http://blogs.reuters.com/pakistan/2009/0 5/13/making-decisions-in-pakistan/

-And yet despite the prophets of doom, Pakistan is not about to implode.

-BAD BUT NOT CATASTROPHIC

Nobody expects much good news out of Pakistan anytime soon. But that does not mean the situation is going to get significantly worse.

- So if Pakistan is not doomed, why the U.S. rhetoric?

Analysts said the warnings of disaster served two main purposes — to push the U.S. Congress and allied governments into quickly authorizing substantial aid for Islamabad, and to try to spur Pakistan’s reluctant government to take on the Taliban rather than seek to reach an uneasy accommodation.

“The Taliban takeover scenario was totally hyped,” Kuusisto said. “It was politically motivated, totally intentional hype.”

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

Any one knows how many civilians and militants deaths so far?

- Posted by rajeev
muslim Khan, Taliban leader said to CNN about 30 or so Talibans were killed and on the other hand the Admn. puts it as over 900.

Strangely no one commented on civilian casualties. Who is counting? I heard an freed American hostage on TV during mumbai massacre pointing out that the terrorists had no value for human life.

One cannot argue with the logic that the Taliban threat has been super hyped to suit certain interests. Even so, unless handled maturely at the military and political level there could be serious long term ramifications for internal security of the country and the neighbouring region as a whole.

Having a well established chain of command is imperative in any nation, more so in one which is undergoing transition, as Pakistan appears to be. Unfortunately the present set up seems to be driven by petty ego clashes. Unless this is sorted out soon, the enemy within will be sure to cash in soon.

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is giving in-camera briefing on Swat operation to the Parliamentarians here in Prime Minister House.

On the occasion, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani underlined the significance of striking a political consensus for establishing durable peace.

“The militants attempted to impose on us their engineered regulations while government’s sincere efforts for establishing peace were construed as its weakness and the militants began challenging the entire system,” the Premier said.

He said there was no other option left to the government than to initiate a full-scale operation against these militants.

Pakistan Army is executing the military operation with valor and professional competence.

Pakistan Muslim League-N Chief Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, Haji Adeel of ANP, JUI (F) Chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, Chief PPP (Sherpao) Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, Dr. Farooq Sattar of MQM, Abdul Razzq Thaheem of PML(F) and Munir Orakzai are also attending the in-camera briefing.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

Only time will tell if the Pakistani Army is going to sincerley defeat the Taliban and decapitate the leadership. Removing the leadership and those several levels down will ensure that the Taliban will be damaged unrecoverably.

The world will wait and see if the PA and ISI are honestly defeating the Taliban or shaving them down to a size where they are manageable, so that they will once rise and again and be weaponized against Afghanistan and India.

Time will show the true nature and honesty of the Pak Army and ISI.

Let’s see what the liar punjabi fauji’s intend to hurl at us, more lies, or true concrete truth and action.

I don’t personally think that the Pak Army has any real intention of killing off the Taliban, they are just putting a shown on for the benefit of a panicked American Leadership.

The Pak Army will re-resume its proxy wars and dirty tactics as usual. The next time they lie, the U.S. and the IMF should impose neck breaking conditions on any support or money Pakistan requests.

It appears that Umair is a paid propaganda official of some state agency in Pakistan. He appears to back any action of the PA and ISI, whether it is good or bad.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

GW Writes: “I don’t personally think that the Pak Army has any real intention of killing off the Taliban, they are just putting a shown on for the benefit of a panicked American Leadership.

The Pak Army will re-resume its proxy wars and dirty tactics as usual. ”

Sometimes I think that it is better to engage Pakistan in a perpetual internal conflict. This way they do not cause damage to others. They fall when fighting each other. When united, they do seem to give a run for the money. I don’t think they can erase the Taliban from their land. Weapons and bombs do not eliminate what is growing inside people’s hearts. Taliban might have started out as an outfit to bring stability to Afghanistan. But as time went on, they had nothing to offer to the people. They brought a dead silence by force. And Pakistan created them with an evil intention – to control Afghanistan and inflict damage to India. So it is better that they fight the Taliban and other such organization internally and leave the rest of the world alone. As I write this, Indian voters sprung a surprise by electing the Congress led coalition for stability and maturity. No matter how much one can call them as illiterate, poor etc, their wisdom has never been at fault. Now Pakistan’s efforts to deflect their internal war by drawing India into a conflict will not work. The reason why Indian elections went off smoothly without terrorist violence instigated by the ISI and its non-state organizations is because Pakistan is busy trying to fight the same elements themselves. So from a selfish stand point, I wish that Pakistan keeps fighting its internal enemies, large and small and keeps its huge and unnecessary military machine running.

lol, wow. u guys really need to get a life. a bunch of computer nerds who think they know military strategy, politics, foreing policy, religious and cultural confilcts.you can’t learn everything from watching videos and you tube and reading thinks from wikipedia. its the same 4-5 of you going at it and commenting off each other. no one really cares.pakistan is finally doing what it needs to and what it should’ve done a long time ago. something that the U.S, UN, or india couldn’t dream about doing.

Posted by hassan | Report as abusive

Hassan babbles: “u guys really need to get a life. a bunch of computer nerds who think they know military strategy, politics, foreing policy, religious and cultural confilcts.you can’t learn everything from watching videos and you tube and reading thinks from wikipedia. its the same 4-5 of you going at it and commenting off each other. no one really cares.”

So take a long hike. No one cares what you think here either.

@pakistan is finally doing what it needs to and what it should’ve done a long time ago. something that the U.S, UN, or india couldn’t dream about doing.
- Posted by hassan

Hassan–You are right, India cannot dream of staying inactive for months while the terrorists are building and then starting an operation that leads to IDP situation and using hellicopter/shelling. Are not Kashmiris lucky that India has dreams like pakistan or Israel. Get some idea about India from one of your parent, who I believe you once said is an Indian before mouthing off Indian dreams.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

@muslim Khan, Taliban leader said to CNN about 30 or so Talibans were killed and on the other hand the Admn. puts it as over 900.
Strangely no one commented on civilian casualties. Who is counting?
- Posted by Azad

Hi “Pakistan Zindabad guys”: any idea how many are dead? I am sure you will be interested to know. Is ISPR counting?

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Hassan – “u guys really need to get a life. a bunch of computer nerds who think they know military strategy…”

You need a new line man. Your ‘computer nerds’ routine is really gettin stale!

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive

People who sit on forums acting like they are the prime ministers of a country make me laugh. I mean does anyone on this forum actually think the leaders are reading the drivel posted here and are suddenly going to act on anything any of you say ?

I am sorry If I offend anyone but that is the harsh reality.

IndoPak relations are not going to be improved by a few baboons firing insults at each other.

I say grow up,chill out,live and let live and if it’s not broken ,don’t fix it.

Posted by VajgayiMeri | Report as abusive

IndoPak relations are not going to be improved by a few baboons firing insults at each other.
- Posted by VajgayiMeri

-OK Baboon

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Baboon writes: “IndoPak relations are not going to be improved by a few baboons firing insults at each other. ”

Over the past 62 years baboons have not resolved anything between the two countries. In India, baboons come to power by the vote cast by ordinary baboons. So every baboon has a right to voice its opinion whether it has any impact or not. And interestingly public opinion does shape the overall attitude of nations. So get back to your tree top and stay there if you do not understand what others are doing.

USA: So sorry we caused this stuff, and 2 million people lost their homes… Guess the whole idea of creating talibs back in good ‘ol days of Cold War to fight commies has really backfired, huh. But we are gonna make it all better, so here is 110 000 000 dollars. Thats about 50 bucks each, right? You can find a place to live,necessary medicine and food for this money. Good luck. PS: Please dont hate us! Make peace, not war!
PAKISTANians: …

Posted by Kristoffer | Report as abusive

The Pakistani govt and army does not need tips from bloggers and foreigners over how to handle matters inside Pakistan.

What they do need is money and equipment, if you can provide that you are welcome, otherwise get lost.

Hey Aamir,

I think you are being un-necessarily rude.
I thinks that with the amount of help west is giving you; you should either be humble, grateful and appreciative of their efforts to exterminate terrorists in a lawless region
OR
you should not take their help.

Posted by Amit Sharma | Report as abusive

Hey nice articl

Posted by mekh | Report as abusive